COSATU statement on the Click stores racism and the burning down of stores

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted the nationwide campaign by the Economic Freedom Fighters to shutdown Click stores following their racist adverts denigrating black people’s hair and perpetuating white supremacy. We join other organisations who have denounced this naked racism of Click stores and feel that their apology was half-hearted and inadequate.

Racism cannot be tolerated in this country where many martyrs have paid the ultimate price to fight and dismantle the racist apartheid regime. All businesses and institutions should understand that there is a price they will pay if they continue to promote white supremacy and perpetuate racism. The Federation supports all the efforts to purge the South African society of racism and white arrogance.

While we support the campaign to discipline white capital and eradicate systemic racism that continues to treat black people as second-class citizens in their own country, we condemn the violence and thuggery that has seen some stores firebombed.

Burning down stores is pure criminality that will punish people who have no dog in this hunt, workers. Injustice and racism have to be fought forcefully without fail but anarchy and violence undermine and delegitimises the valid struggle against racism and takes the focus away from racists.

No one should imagine that any of this is helping the black community. It is mostly lowly paid black workers who will have nowhere to go to work if shops, where they work, are burned down. Most of this is political theatre, not even a distinguished theatre, unfortunately

Despite our strong opposition to racism and our commitment to its eradication, COSATU will never support anarchy and lawlessness. This reckless criminal behaviour can only serve to propagate social ferment and further economic dislocation 

It is galling also to see EFF leaders who are elected legislators competing to prove how contemptuous they are of the rule of law. Workers must refuse to be manipulated by opportunists, who only offer them rhetoric and symbolism and then ditch them afterward and move on to another headline-grabbing stunt. 

The struggle against racism should also be fought ideologically; it cannot only be fought or corrected by means of mere disobedience, vandalism, and futile martyrdom.

We need to deal with the source of white economic power that feeds this arrogance. While many of those who are frustrated by high unemployment may take a certain satisfaction at an even illogical retribution, and some comfort in slogans about euthanising the wealthy class, these alone will not eradicate racism.

We need to also focus our anger at the free-market acolytes and true believers at the National Treasury whose current policies perpetuate racism because they subjugate the previously oppressed black majority, while protecting the inherited privileges of the white minority. 

Issued by COSATU

 Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794